Arts Board President Sings Praises For The Arts

Many people work behind the scenes to bring the magic of arts to us. One of the most influential advocates for the arts is Katie Caldwell, president of the Woodstock Arts board of directors. The nonprofit organization provides performing arts productions, outdoor concerts, visual arts exhibits, cultural events, classes, and camps featuring theatrical arts, visual arts, music, dance, and culinary arts.

Thanks to Kathryn Archer Caldwell, better known as Katie, and a host of other dedicated workers, art is almost everywhere in our city, whether it’s the vibrant colors of an arts show or a performance on stage at the Woodstock Arts Event Green and the Lantern Series. Art brings us together. Local, regional, and sometimes national creations are available for viewing throughout Woodstock. Our community grows closer in mutual moments of shared emotion and artistic appreciation. We are fortunate to have current examples as well as a clear projected path of growth for the arts in Woodstock, and much of it is thanks to Katie.

Katie Caldwell, Woodstock Arts Board of Directors President

“I believe that the arts are vital to any community, providing shared experiences and meaningful connections.” – Katie Caldwell

Planting Roots in Cherokee County

The oldest of three siblings and the daughter of Edward and Lisa Archer, Katie spent her youngest years on the move. Her father was in the military, and in the short span of three years her family moved from Louisiana to Texas and then South Dakota. The family finally landed in Georgia. 

After Katie’s parents raised her in Woodstock, they moved to Calhoun, where her father is now an ordained minister and her mother teaches math at Calhoun High School. 

Woodstock had been home to Katie since she was three, so she remained here with her husband, Michael, raising their own family while both became influential and vital leaders in the Woodstock community.

A Passion for the Arts

Although Katie has never enjoyed being the center of attention, she enjoyed singing with the chorus. Learning to play the piano and reading sheet music led to her passion for performing. They were also crucial components and valuable assets in her artistic field. 

At Etowah High School Katie was voted Most Talented and received multiple certificates for her achievements in vocal arts. Katie next attended Kennesaw State, where she says several of her professors during her first year in the vocal studies program were not as supportive of her passion. Katie recalls, “They were not exactly selling or promoting any opera careers.” Disheartened, Katie changed her major from vocal studies to early childhood education and later received her degree. 

The change in her major delayed Katie from continuing down the path of the arts, but it did not extinguish the passion she developed at a young age. Katie began singing with Woodstock Arts (formerly Elm Street Cultural Arts). She was cast as part of the ensemble in The Secret Garden, the musical. She also performed as an actress and singer in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Little Women, Guys and Dolls, Sunday in the Park with George, and at least thirty other productions. What began as a volunteer performer showcasing her natural abilities blossomed into a more active role in the Woodstock Arts programs.

Where it all began: Katie, in her first role with Woodstock Arts, and the cast of The Secret Garden.

Now, like a compass, Katie guides the arts program. She envisions a bright and even more diverse spectrum of events in Woodstock’s future. 

Katie’s dedication to the arts has led her not only to being the president of the Woodstock Arts Board, but also holding seats on the Development Committee fundraising board and the Community Engagement board. Although Katie says, “I would rather stay at the back and not speak in front of people,” her passion for the arts has propelled her to the front.

Katie expanded the Lantern Series and other Woodstock Arts programs, including events at the Reeves House Visual Arts Center and stage productions of Woodstock Arts. Both venues have grown in numbers and quality of events with her in the lead. Katie says, “My mission is to create relevant art experiences in Woodstock and engage the community every day through art.”

Pictured L-R, front row: Tim Cibene, Juanita Hughes, Debbie Tidwell, Katie O'Connor, Woodstock Arts cofounder Ann Litrel, Katie Caldwell, Christopher Brazelton, former Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques, Charlice Byrd, John Wieland, Melissa Cantrell, and Kenny Kligman

In May 2021 Katie and other community leaders in the arts cut the ribbon for the Reeves House Visual Arts Center, which features gallery space, art classes, and a coffee/wine bar. (Pictured L-R, front row: Tim Cibene, Juanita Hughes, Debbie Tidwell, Katie O’Connor, Woodstock Arts cofounder Ann Litrel, Katie Caldwell, Christopher Brazelton, former Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques, Charlice Byrd, John Wieland, Melissa Cantrell, and Kenny Kligman)

“Katie’s passion for the arts shines through in her role as chair of the board of directors. Under her guidance, the organization has brought art to new heights and has had a significant impact on the community. Katie has a unique ability to see the bigger picture and make strategic decisions that leverage a symbiotic relationship between artists, art, and the community as a whole. It is always a pleasure working with her, and it is evident that her dedication will have an impact for years to come.” – Christopher Brazelton, Executive Director, Woodstock Arts

Balancing Act

With seeming superpowers Katie juggles her artistic performances, negotiates all the board meetings and planning, raises funds to support arts projects, and homeschools her three children: Oliver, eight; Elizabeth, four; and Charlotte (Char), almost one.

The Caldwell Family—Charlotte, Katie, Oliver, Michael, and Elizabeth

To top it all off Katie is the First Lady of Woodstock. Her husband, Mayor Michael Caldwell, charmingly referred to by colleagues as “Mr. Woodstock,” is also a former state representative. As the wife of a politician, she admits the demands of travel and social engagements were also challenging. When asked how she manages all these tasks she explains, “What motivates me is that I have a cause and a passion, and that is where I find strength. Any of the things that would make me pause don’t enter my mind. I am engaged in and believe in what I am doing, all the things I am most passionate about. Sure, there are low times when I get tired, but I keep going because I love my family, love the people I work with, and love the community we live with. It is all an opportunity for the community, and that is the reward.”

Meeting Mike

A romantic would say Katie and Michael’s relationship was predestined. Mike also grew up in Woodstock, though the two didn’t know each other until high school. They had the same friends, went to the same schools, and even lived in the same neighborhood, but on opposite sides of it. Katie’s father was the den leader for Mike’s brother’s Scout troop. Mike and Katie had been crossing paths since they arrived in Woodstock, so it seems only right they would become high school sweethearts before marrying in 2011. Because Mike is often called “Mr. Woodstock,” it seems fitting to refer to Katie as “Mrs. Woodstock.” With both contributing so much effort and loyalty toward the betterment of our community it’s easy to label them the Woodstock Dynamic Duo.

“Few have done more to build a vibrant arts presence here in our city than Katie. She’s a proven leader, and the dedication and passion she has brought to building a sustainable, exciting arts organization with the Woodstock Arts team is a legacy she will leave in our city for years to come.” – Michael Caldwell

Vision for the Future

Music, visual arts, and performing arts are all available to residents of Cherokee County through the variety of programming organized by the team at Woodstock Arts. The days of driving hours to a faraway show are over. Now neighbors are catching local events with neighbors. More than fifty events are currently on the Woodstock Arts calendar through August, and that list doesn’t include city events or small-venue events dotted throughout Woodstock’s vibrant downtown area. The selection of plays, musicals, comedies, art exhibits, and interactive events for both adults and children keeps growing.

Visit for a full list of events to enjoy, and if you see Katie there, be sure to thank her in person.



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